COLORADO SPRINGS — The nursing shortage in our state is still growing and it's set to triple the national average, according to the National League for Nursing (NLN).
NLN says the main factors causing this problem are a growing and aging population, the cost of becoming a nurse and the job requirements in the workforce. Not only in Colorado but across the U.S., our population is getting older. The older we get, the more medical attention we need. On top of that, 32% of Colorado's nurses are 55 and older, which means they could have their sights set on retiring.
Also, the job requirements to become a nurse are changing. Many positions that are available, now require a bachelor's degree instead of an associate's degree. According to the Imagine America Foundation, it's also very expensive to go to nursing school with the average cost of a two-year RN program being $22,000. If you need a four-year degree, the price tag doubles.
Pikes Peak Community College has been ranked the number one nursing program in the state by RegisteredNursing.org, a nursing advocacy organization. Nursing programs were assessed on several factors, including how well a program supports students towards getting a license and beyond. College President Dr. Lance Bolton says as great as their nursing program is, institutions are still falling short.
Bolton says it's important to give students real life experience, just like any other field.
"As a pilot you're training in a simulator in very difficult weather conditions and difficult landing conditions," Bolton said. "This actually works exactly the same way in health care."
Bolton says he hopes institutions and lawmakers can regroup, and tackle the issue at another angle.
They tried to do that in 2018 when House Bill 1086 was passed. It allows two-year institutions to offer four-year degrees in nursing. If something isn't done, the U.S. Department of Labor says, Colorado could be 4,500 nurses short by the year 2024.